Kipling poem query

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Kipling poem query

Postby Noman » 16 Jan 2018 15:09

Kipling poem Hanging Danny Deaver in the morning...was Kipling inspired by an actual execution? :?:
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Re: Kipling poem query

Postby sjwalker51 » 20 Jan 2018 15:58

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Re: Kipling poem query

Postby Maureene » 21 Jan 2018 01:28

There is an article "A Military Execution in India" by Ray Beck in The Kipling Journal of December 2009 pages 22-30
http://www.kiplingjournal.com/acrobat/KJ334.pdf

This article gives an account of the execution of No.2638 Private George Flaxman of the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment at Lucknow on 10 January 1887, including an eyewitness account, “for the wilful murder of Lance Sergeant William Carmody of the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment at Ranakit on or about the 9th of September 1886”

I cannot see however, that the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was in India at that time

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Re: Kipling poem query

Postby jf42 » 21 Jan 2018 09:51

Maureene wrote:There is an article "A Military Execution in India" by Ray Beck in The Kipling Journal of December 2009 pages 22-30
http://www.kiplingjournal.com/acrobat/KJ334.pdf

This article gives an account of the execution of No.2638 Private George Flaxman of the 2nd Battalion Leicestershire Regiment at Lucknow on 10 January 1887, including an eyewitness account, “for the wilful murder of Lance Sergeant William Carmody of the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment at Ranakit on or about the 9th of September 1886”

I cannot see however, that the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment was in India at that time

Cheers
Maureen


Both battalions of the 17th (The Leicestershire) Regiment had been India in 1881 when, under the Childers reforms, the regiment lost its number to become the Leicestershire Regiment. As you noted, Maureen, the 1st Bn returned to Britain in 1882 while the 2nd remained in India, moving to Lucknow in 1885.

Why Lance Sergeant Carmody should have been described as 'of the 1st Battalion' is not clear. He may have joined the 2nd Bn from the 1st Bn when the latter left India but then, logically, he would have been of the 2nd Bn from thenceforward. One faint possibility is that the scene of the murder, "Ranikat", being Ranikhet, a summer hill station with a a hospital facility where men were sent from 'The Plains' to convalesce, Carmody had somehow wound up there while the rest of the 1st Bn departed for Blighty. If he had been sent there on sick leave from the 1st Bn, four years' convalescence seems unlikely.

One wonders what men on sick leave would have been doing with rifles and live ammunition. Perhaps a detachment of the Leicestershires were in Rhaniket independent of the presence of the hospital. Perhaps the whole battalion had been posted there earlier in the year, and were still seeking respite from the late summer heat. Someone with access to more detailed history of the regiment may be able to cast more light.
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Re: Kipling poem query

Postby Frogsmile » 23 Jan 2018 19:50

A very interesting story about which I would like to make four observations:

1. Lance Sergeant Carmody was almost certainly filling a post on the Rhaniket Garrison Establishment. What we now - and probably then - call an extra regimental establishment (ERE) post. As such his parent unit would be the battalion from which he was posted, in this case the 1st Battalion of the relatively newly titled Leicestershire Regiment.

2. After the Indian Mutiny all men on Guard or Picquet duty were issued with rifle and live ammunition for the period of their duty (usually a paper covered packet of 10 rounds in one waistbelt Pouch (known as ‘Guard Order’), with more in the Guard house safe, to be issued on the authority of the orderly officer/sergeant of the day). Men on convalescence went through ascending stages of fitness during their recovery and once deemed fit by a formal and routine medical grading board, their name would be submitted for the Garrison duty roster until such time as they were authorised to return to their unit. It seems likely to me that this probably happened to Private Flaxman, as it is where he is most likely to have come into contact with the Provost Sergeant. One can imagine the scenario where having come from the same regiment Private Flaxman might have felt the rough edge of Sergeant Carmody’s tongue, or that he had been tormented (perhaps with others - see point 4) over a period of time.

3. Kipling mentions in his poem ‘stripes’ being 'cut away' and this is assumed in the Kipling Journal article to mean rank stripes. I believe it is very likely to have been good conduct stripes (the pay for which Flaxman was receiving until the very end) for although referred to officially as good conduct ‘badges’, to the more literal eye of the soldiers they were known as good conduct stripes.

4. Finally, the appointment of Provost Sergeant goes back a long way and was often given to (and applied for by) some of the erstwhile, biggest crooks in a battalion (think of the old adage - it takes a thief to catch a thief) who knew every trick in the book. In Garrison appointments especially (away from parent unit) such posts could sometimes go to a man who might be a pocket Hitler, for whom such power could have a heady effect psychologically. I think of this because although I am sure there must have been some good and well balanced men in Provost Sergeant appointments, I personally never met one. Such Garrison posts often went to hard-bitten, old soldiers towards the end of their service, frequently in the place where they wished to settle upon discharge/retirement. During the period concerned and having become accustomed to the services of all manner of native servants and a relative life of leisure compared with what they might expect at home, many old soldiers elected to stay in India, especially so if they had a native ‘Bibby’ to look after their every need. Given that Sergeant Carmody’s battalion had returned home some years before, it seems to me that he might have been one such character.

N.B. The enclosed image shows a much earlier military execution, but it serves to convey some of the atmosphere mentioned in the case of Private Flaxman.
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Relic of many a fight and siege and sack, it points a moral and adorns the back.
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